Trailblazer Jemma reflects on time at GCU

Thu, 29 Oct 2020 16:19:00 GMT
Jemma is looking ahead to her future career, with a keen interest in academia
Jemma is looking ahead to her future career, with a keen interest in academia

Jemma Byrne, part of the first cohort of GCU students to complete the DPsych Health Psychology programme, speaks here about her time at University, receiving positive feedback on placement and future plans.

How much did you enjoy the course at GCU?

“It was great. There were challenges as the first cohort because there were days where you felt like guinea pigs and others where you were trailblazers. There were a lot of things being ironed out and we had some guest lecturers who may not have fully appreciated what we do, so that could be challenging but it also allowed us to start fighting for our own turf.

The DPsych Sport and Exercise doctorate began at the same time, so that was amazing being alongside them. Probably the highlight was that there was a small group of us and the sport students and now we’re all really close friends.

There were four of us to start and then that became two, while we had four on the sport programme. It strengthened the bond that we were such a small tight-knit group.”

Would you recommend programme to other people?

“Absolutely, if someone else is sitting thinking that they want to be a health psychologist and they want to be working clinically with patients then this would be the way to go.

I’ve had the opportunity to talk with other health psychology trainees across the UK and they’re not getting the same practical experience. Our placement requirement was 450 hours of clinical practice which compares to others who have maybe only done 50 hours - it really stands us in good stead.”

You received really positive feedback while working with a patient during placement. They said: “She was friendly, approachable and never judged me and as a direct result of these sessions I no longer need surgery – something I never imagined would be possible. Without access to a health psychologist I doubt I would ever have managed to lose almost 100lbs on my own and turned my life around.”

How did this make you feel?

“I had sat my final assessment when I received the feedback from the patient. It was even better than finishing my Viva, it was just amazing to hear. The individual has also managed to maintain it over lockdown which is no mean feat.

It was so rewarding to see the progress they had made and to have been a part of that. They wouldn’t have done it without their own effort and it’s just nice to know I’ve clicked with someone in that way to empower them to make those changes for themselves.”

What does the future hold?

“At the moment I’m doing academic tutoring at GCU, I just can’t bear to leave the place! I’m applying for different roles and very mindful of the challenges I might have in getting a clinical role because it’s so competitive.

We’re really trying to challenge the thought that we only do research or work in academia, so that’s why the programme is great in trying to break that stereotype.”


Find out more about the DPsych Health Psychology programme

By Ross Clark
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